Jungle: The Daily Dose Of Excess

excerpts Unfortunately, in this country we talk, but do not communicate, in the sense of a science of communication. This is particularly obvious in the public area, where people do not express thanks, do not salute, and address each other on familiar terms without justification. The main cause of the lack of civility is a relational and communication deficiency.In many situations, those who are supposed to know the rules of interpersonal behavior and apply them have no idea about them and about how they should conduct themselves in relation to those they get in touch with. Time and again, we ask for information and are left to our own devices, without a word from the other end of the line. No "wait, please," no "please call again," nothing. Salespersons are grouchy, bad-tempered, hostile, and cast withering glances to drive customers out of the store as fast as possible. Feeble signs of change appear only where communication training was probably implemented, or at least instructions for amiable behavior. In spite of this, nowhere are such gestures to be perceived as becoming a reflex, and neither is an easily discernible lack of effort. Snapping at clients seems to be the forte of our services.Someone once told me that, if a sound recorder was placed in space above Romania, it would pick up a hubbub of screams, howls and cusses among which the most frequently uttered would be the word that designates the male genital organ. Romania seems to be a society that sends out nasty sounds. It is an overwrought society, a scene of generalized public showoff of intra- and interpersonal conflicts. We are hot-tempered, disgruntled, sour and ready to point the finger at others before they even try to say a word. Ironically, this is happening in a place where they say "good words cost nothing." The village world, it is believed, was based on the assimilation – through socialization – of the dichotomy "what is right" versus "what is wrong." Social control was working, and penalization was immediate. The city makes control difficult, and today's majority – neither peasants, nor townspeople, hence an ambiguous cultural product – displays a behavioral freedom that begins by the very violation of other people's freedom. We watch TV shows during which dirty linen is washed in public, as if this magical object becomes the necessary ally of one party in dispute or the other. Nevertheless, in these shows of casually exposed promiscuity, of lack of self-respect and respect for others, the hostess is looking for a "water lily in the human bog" which, due to a mysterious gift, she is the only one to see and point out to the others. An invisible sentimental court is hovering above. In the name of past or present love, the hostess invites to reconciliation. Out of love, one may make terrible mistakes, beat people up, cheat, etc. All we have to learn is Orthodox forgiveness.Discretion is out of the question. More and more of what used to be the sphere of privacy is brought into the limelight before our eyes. Perhaps people should try to make up and forgive each other. We hear the "there are kids involved" argument over and over. But, instead of seeing an instance of social pedagogy, we are left with a minor populist show sending an "unfinished" message, which caters to stereotypes and bolsters the acceptance of the intolerable. The TV viewer remains a "person that is instantly touched by everything, and is not concerned with anything durable" (Amin Maalouf: "The mass inside and outside us looks excited, but is actually very little distressed"). From one show to another, wretches, battered women, confused or scared children wrangled over by adults divided into opposing sides – naturally, each with his or her own family – and lovers frantically clinging to a compromised relationship parade before us. Nothing is being learnt, all you have to do is watch and forget. Violence as a relationship style does not matter as a condition of recurrence. No appeal to introspection or to the anticipation of the consequences of our deeds is outlined. Nobody feels uncomfortable. The light twinges of emotion fade away when the show is over. It is not the show that is pointless, but its ideology. It leaves the impression that "everything goes", including the sphere of relations with close friends and family members, not to mention the others! Tolerance is taught without defining the intolerable.Romania is a big shop window. A spectacle of excessive disorder, a bazaar. Maybe Romanians are too hot blooded, quick tempered, passionate. Maybe the borderline between private and public is very blurred but, when all is said and done, tolerance for things amiss and frustration exhibited with the utmost spontaneity and authenticity remain familiar sights of Romanian everyday life. Everyone gets his daily intake of nerves and irritation, sighing "Here's like nowhere else!" A world of excesses, a world where one attacks and is being attacked without rule. An impassioned world, unsettled and restless as yet. Dilema, 2002

by Aurora Liiceanu